I wish I’d been in Pittsburgh a week earlier, when the G20 was convening. Then I could have joined in the protests. And since the protesters seemed to be protesting about just about everything, I could have fit in fairly nicely – even though my own gripe would have been slightly more off-topic. The focus of my ire would have been the city planners, or the monkeys who pose as city planners, or the bastards who decided to not hire city planners to begin with.
You see, for all its lovely green hills and quirky hillside houses – for all its bridges, and its many grand vistas – Pittsburgh is by far the most poorly scrapped together city in the lower 48 states. Never in my life have I been more confused. Two wrong turns, and you find yourself not so much lost as totally incapable of making your way back to where you need to go. It’s not that you become disoriented. There is simply no decipherable route back. One might think a city would have signs pointing you to the proper exit or to the correct road to get back to the freeway, but this is not the case in Pittsburgh, which seems to delight in its directional miserliness. Nor can you quite tell which bridge is which, or which should be crossed to get where. That is, of course, if you can reach the bridge to begin with.
Of course all the natural chaos of the one-ways and inscrutable exits pale in comparison to the mind-bending detours the road construction has woven about the city, wrapping one maze within another. Indeed, by the time I returned to my hotel near the airport I wished I’d never left to begin with, however much I liked the city itself. (Had I been fortunate enough to have taken a cab, or had I been able to hoof it I’m sure it would have been very nice….) I’ve never been lost in a city before, but Pittsburgh has beat me.
And beat me good.
Of course, I always feel a bit like this when I travel….